Sunday: I Was A Stranger
March was a hard month. An incredibly hard month. Wyatt was way too busy, and I was stretched way too thin. Between work and his new calling (which during March did not relieve his time commitment), he was gone four or five nights a week. Add in a neighbor who needed help with a major project, and Wyatt was home less than half a dozen evenings the entire month.
So at the end of the month when I went to Women’s Conference, I was on the verge of tears. I went to the meeting feeling a great need for a “break.” A break from doing unto. I felt like all I did was unto others, and I had nothing left.
And I wasn’t offended or bothered or anything. I just felt like a failure from the start. I was stretched the max and praying for Heavenly Father to give me a break. And instead He was asking for more.
In the first time in perhaps ever, I left the meeting not feeling uplifted, but instead more overwhelmed and maybe a little deflated.
And I didn’t act.
Instead I continued to push through the challenges of my own life that I was already facing. I continued to support Wyatt as he continued to be gone. I continued to babysit for the people who asked. I continued to clean my house and wash my dishes and care for my kids and weed my yard. I continued in my little-but-hard-to-swallow-life. And I didn’t act on the call to serve.
But I talked about it – with a few people I trusted. I confessed all that I’m confessing here. They all said the same thing: “That wasn’t for you. You’re in a different season of life. Just continue to do your best, and that’s all anyone wants.”
But it didn’t feel like it.
And then this weekend I had a few hours to really reflect on the call. I thought about my inability to mobilize myself. I wondered if my friends were right, if the call wasn’t meant for me.
And remember this part from that talk:
In the October 1856 general conference as President Brigham Young announced to the congregation that handcart pioneers were still on the trail and late in the season. He declared:
“Your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you in the celestial kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in those people now on the plains, and attend strictly to those things which we call temporal, … otherwise your faith will be in vain.”
We remember with grateful admiration the men who headed off to rescue those suffering Saints. But what did the sisters do?
“Sister [Lucy Meserve] Smith recorded … that after President Young’s exhortation, those in attendance took action. … Women ‘[removed] their petticoats [large underskirts that were part of the fashion of the day and that also provided warmth], stockings, and every thing they could spare, right there in the [old] Tabernacle, and piled [them] into the wagons to send to the Saints in the mountains.’”3
Several weeks later, President Brigham Young gathered the Saints again in the old Tabernacle as the rescuers and the handcart companies got closer to Salt Lake City. With great urgency, he pleaded with the Saints—especially the sisters—to nurse the sufferers and feed them and receive them, saying: “Some you will find with their feet frozen to their ankles; some are frozen to their knees and some have their hands frosted. … We want you to receive them as your own children, and to have the same feeling for them.”4
I love the pioneer stories. I love the courage and the hope and the grit that echoes in each heartbreaking challenge they faced. Pioneer stories are dear to me. And I’ve always wondered what I would have done if such a call came to me.
And now I know.
Apparently I would’ve gone home and cried and felt sorry for myself. I would’ve felt inadequate, my faith would’ve wavered that I could do more, or be more, than the impish and unprofitable servant that I am.
But that’s not how I want this story to end.
I want to answer the call. I want to answer with strength and resolve and mostly . . . faith. Faith that the Lord will expand my capacities. All I have to do is get to work.
I will keep you posted on all the miracles that will surely come forth.